Slightly Stoopid: Everything Is Awesome 2015 Tour Review

“I hope you weren’t planning on taking any drug tests soon, because you sure as hell won’t pass!”

*This was taken last year. Jeff Schad was busy falling of his bike in the Swiss Alps and couldn't make it this year. He said, "What other band besides Stoopid lets you get so close, and is so cool to work with in every way?
Slightly Stoopid Review Concert Pier Six
The setting for our show, Pier Six Pavilion located in the Inner Harbor.

On Thursday, July 16th, I was able to see Slightly Stoopid with the Dirty Heads play at the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, Maryland. Continuing my efforts towards catching big local shows, something that was on a tiny bit of a break, I was very excited to see my first, real, big venue surf reggae show, and it paid off. Playing at the Pier Six Pavilion across the Inner Harbor from the Aquarium, I don’t think there could be any better venues for a show like this, save a California beach that each one of these groups is all too familiar with.

Before I physically got into the concert, I was notified by the beneficiary who was able to get me the tickets that I should be on the lookout for a very awesome energy. Slightly Stoopid and the Dirty Heads, despite the slightly similar geographic influence and paths to stardom, have never toured together. This was the first time that most, if not everyone in the area would have been able to see both bands playing together on the same bill. It was apparent from my first steps in that the energy my boss spoke about was already rising. One could even argue that the energy was… high.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid Review
A candid scene as the show starts.

The first thing I noticed getting in was how pretty the physical backdrop of the concert was. A beautiful day on the Inner Harbor set the scene for youthful festivity. It seemed hard to believe that this same city, beaming in the summer sun, was tearing itself apart at the seams and burning itself to the ground only a few months ago. Everything felt safe. Security guards joined in with the elevated fun that swept over the crowd like a haze. The overwhelming presence of youth at this concert, with the majority of audience members looking like they be anywhere from high school to college aged, was another very different energy that I had never felt before on such a wide scale.

While the absence of locally brewed National Bohemian was apparent and missed, the setup for the night was fine. Crowds on the lawn and in the seated areas with two easy access points made the trip in a walk in the park, all the while being able to look out and enjoy your time on the water.

Slightly Stoopid Pier Six Review
The concert progresses and more people fill in.

Kicking the night off was The Expendables, based out of Santa Cruz, California. Considered a reggae rock band, I was able to hear more influences than just basic reggae and rock. Noted, it was classic surf reggae, but the heavier based distortion coming through the guitars and out the amplifiers made for a very special tone that accompanied the rhythmic beats. While too much being tied together could give anyone a headache, The Expendables were able to put it together. Playing hits such as “Down Down Down”, “Sacrifice”, and “Bowl for Two”, a definite crowd favorite, The Expendables were able to kick off the night with high energy. Almost too high. For the time of day with the sun shining down, pretty much ruining any chance at stage lighting, this band was seriously ready to amp it up. And I personally do not think that the crowd was ready be so amped up quite that much.

Combining the efforts of two guitars, a bass, and drum kit, this high octane set was not willing to let any sound go unnoticed, from what seemed to be heavy metal shredding to an island jam. This kind of “island shredding” was technically very cool. But, the surrounding atmosphere may not have been the best for it. If you are into party rock, I would highly advise to check out some of their work around the internet. But this group definitely seemed much more primed to play a darker, closer to night time, arena, or even big bar gig. While their music was not bad at all, I think that some liberties could have been taken by the group to play more in the mood. I am not defending having different sounding opening acts by any means. For example, without Van Halen completely blowing Black Sabbath off the stage every night they opened for them back in the late 70’s, would they have been so big, so quickly? While that discussion may be for another article, I definitely think that keeping up with the reggae hits that The Expendables did so well to begin with, as well as being able to keep the crowd going with, would have made for an even better opening than the one they had.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid
Once it got dark, the party really started.

The second group of the night was none other than The Dirty Heads. Another reggae – rock fusion band coming from Huntington Beach, with the current line up being active members since 2003, there is not much to say other than these guys absolutely killed it. With the sun beginning to set to allow the light show to kick in as well as even more people filling in to begin the festivities, this was definitely a notable point in the night in which the music matched the mood masterfully. Playing songs like “Lay Me Down” and my new personal favorite for the night, “Medusa”, The Dirty Heads were able to pump some amazing jams and blow the collective minds of the audience. With a great crowd energy, I can safely say that I will be catching these guys if they come around again. Big venue, small venue, they put on a great show.

Dirty Heads, from a previous show at Pier 6. Our photographer was out of town. Sorry.

At this point in time, I feel it is only appropriate to talk about one of the most memorable observations I was able to take away from this specific show.

I have never seen so much weed being smoked in one place, at one time, as I did that night.

Sweet lord.

There must have been a piece of something for every four or five people that were in attendance, all of which had to have been snuck in. And that absolutely did not go unnoticed by the performers on stage. It’s like the bands were amping all of the herbal based debauchery up, making people go even crazier than they would already. I think I should probably be pleading the fifth on this whole topic, but it is just too good not to bring up. It was clear that for every four or five people attending, there was something to go around. Even some security guards were getting in on the action. I thought that the guy vomiting at the Skynyrd show I saw earlier in the summer was funny, but the security guard trying to hit something way too aggressively while crouched in the middle of a circle of people? Easily topped that sight.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid
You think I was J.J. Abrams or something with all of this lens flare. I blame Siri.

By the end of The Dirty Heads’ set, as the sun was setting into darkness, the haze that had spread over the crowd meant everyone was ready for one thing – for the highest (get it?) billed group to begin their performance. Pre gaming the crowd with 90’s hip hop accompanied with a modern bass, presumably from one of the musicians in the band, it was very clear that people, including myself, were ready to party. I don’t think anyone could have come up with anything better than playing early rap, such as 2Pac’s “California Love”, to get the final leg of the party started. With a great crowd energy and who knows how many musicians, from guitarists, bassists, singers, percussionists, keyboard players, and most importantly the horn section, coming on and off, joining the jam, Slightly Stoopid, the top billed performers of the night, played a great set. With every song’s melodic and rhythmic structure blending in almost feeling like one big jam, the waves of music pouring over the crowd made for a great Thursday night concert on the water.

Slightly Stoopid, also from a previous show at Pier 6. Damn photographer was falling off his bike in Switzerland.

Based out of Ocean Beach in San Diego, Slightly Stoopid, along with the rest of the groups for that matter, were able to bring the California state of mind to the East Coast. From the use of reggae, to rock, to ska, and anything else in between, the combination of party music and the youthful atmosphere for a nice night. It’s no secret that I want to end up in that area before I die. I talk about it all the time. The seemingly biggest center of industry for hard rock and surf reggae alike and everything in between, the West Coast seems like one of the places to be right now. Gigs like this are instrumental into bringing that California soul out of the one place where it comes from, and the one place that is incidentally, running out of water.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid
Boaters catching the show on the water. Pretty nice set up.

All in all, another great night. I consider myself a pretty lucky guy, but being able to go to events like these, party to great music, and meeting awesome people, is making this summer one I will remember. Personal quips aside, anyone looking for a great time with big time surf reggae music this summer is doing a disservice to themselves by not catching this tour. Seeing big concerts like this is always a pleasure, and with the tour only going until September, the opportunities to catch the one band second only to the progenitors of this whole genre, Sublime, accompanied by other hands down, amazing acts, is going quickly.

Coincidentally, the show they play in Colorado is already completely sold out. One could only imagine why.

Bumpin’ Uglies CD Release Party Review

Metropolitan
Metropolitan
The Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending an EP release party at the Metropolitan… Kitchen and Lounge located on West Street in Annapolis. Featuring both local and out-of-state bands and attended by an eclectic group of music lovers ranging from all walks of life, this specific release party was for the wildly popular local group, Bumpin’ Uglies. That night, the Uglies, featuring a stellar supporting cast, promoted their latest work: the extended play, “Freakout Hell Bus”.

Because of the bands that played, I was not only able to listen, but also able to gain a new level of appreciation for funky reggae and rock; some of the best genres to catch a serious groove with. Inspired by artists ranging from Sublime to Led Zeppelin, the musicianship that each group presented was great. While Bumpin Uglies headlined the night, three separate groups warmed their stage and crowd thanks to the arrangement of local industry player Mr. Justin Lasher, currently working for the full service event production company, First Level Productions.

The first act of the night was the local up-and-coming group, Freelance. Setting the tone for the night early, Freelance was able to bring in a solid crowd of what seemed to be younger audience members, just as interested in music as the usual suspects who frequent venues like this. Combining reggae – rock and alternative, these guys did a nice job kicking off the release party. While it was very clear that they were younger, more specifically high school-aged, they were able to bring a heavy energy to make up for any age barriers present.  Musicians Trevor Prescott, vocals and guitar, Jesse Johnson, guitar, Luke Turner, bass, and Drew Creed, drums, are definitely some guys to keep on the radar.

Amongst the Monks Metropolitan
The second group, Amongst the Monks.

The second group of the night was another one of the rare out-of-state gems that I seem to run into every time I go to venues like the Metropolitan. Amongst the Monks are a four piece from Corning, New York, and I can say without a doubt that these guys (and girl) blew my mind. While the audience sadly decreased in size from earlier, the groove of both the songs and instrumentals, like my personal favorite of the night, “Resting Bitch Face”, absolutely tore the room up. I was able to catch up with the Monks after their set, and learned more about them as a group. Originally a three piece trio featuring Phil Way on guitar and vocals, Ian Kull on bass, and Jeremy Bussmann on drums, the newest addition of vocalist Emily Plummer rounded out an extremely polished group clearly inspired by the likes of Zeppelin and other jam mastering greats. While watching, I honestly could not believe the lack of size of the crowd taking part in the performance. It is a shame that there were not many people watching and moving along with the band, but this group is poised to come back around soon enough. Hopefully then, the crowd will grow and amp up enough to bring the energy to an all time high – something that would put this group over the top.

Higher Education Metropolitan
The third group, Higher Education.

Following Amongst the Monks was Prince George’s County based group Higher Education. As the darkness had crept into this point of the summer night, more and more people began to enter the venue to prepare for the headlining act. From the first minute of their set, it was clear that they were very polished, and very ready to have a great time. Featuring brothers Petey and Danny Devaney on guitar, bass, and vocals, as well as drummer Bradley Wilson, the extremely special sound of this band came from Saxophone player Dave Klein. While incredible instrumentalists in each of their own rights, the combination of a tight rock band featuring a horn section made for an indispensable sound. Dancing, singing, moving – the crowd were into these guys, and rightfully so. Seeing them for the first time sold me, and I can’t wait to hear what is next. Like every other group, energy was clearly brought, but the bigger audience turnout at this specific point of the night really set the island mood for what was coming next.

Bumpin Uglies Metropolitan Surf Reggae Rock
The final act and headliners: Bumpin' Uglies. Serious sized crowd at this point.

The last act and headliners of the event were none other than Bumpin’ Uglies. Presenting a wide variety of new and old songs, not much can be said about their performance aside from one word – fantastic. Matching extremely well written vocal lines and harmonies along with the tight instrumental performances of funky, Sublime inspired reggae-rock, the Uglies put on a great show. While each band shined in their own light, the stage presence and antics of lead singer and guitarist, Brandon Hardesty, made for arguably the most entertaining performance of the night. The rhythm section of Dave Wolf and TJ Haslett on the bass and drums, respectively, could not have been any tighter. These guys are seasoned pros, and it shows. If their music was not already cool enough, Brandon was willing to sit with me for a while before his set and chat. His story will be brought to you as a SurfRhythm exclusive as our next segment in Local Waves. Playing until past midnight, Bumpin’ Uglies closed out their party as any professionals would – keeping smiles on faces and the night alive for the audience. Truly, a job well done.

While watching and dancing to the musicians pouring their hearts and souls into this craft, I was able to notice the mix of people, both young and old, dancing, singing along, and just having a good time. As a commonly noted frequenter of many different styles of music, this gig stood out to me. It is truly mind blowing to know that there are groups working tirelessly, not always for the money and the fame, but just for the passion and to make their living doing what they love. This mindset seemed to be one of the connecting links between each group. While not playing the exact same types of music, the common theme of the heavy jam was strong with everyone. It just goes to show how cool it can be to have a good time with people, be it your friends, or someone you just met, and how the waves of melody can make your night.

All in all, this was a great gig to go to. Between the atmosphere, people, and most importantly the music, there was no negativity to be seen or heard. All of these bands are either currently on some form of tour or performance schedule. Attached below are the links to their respective pages and music, given in order to help anyone interested learn more about the bands, music, tour dates – the whole nine yards. Even if this kind of music is not your cup of tea, or case of beer for that matter, I highly recommend checking each one out. You will absolutely not be disappointed.

Bumpin’ Uglies: http://bumpinugliesmusic.com/

Higher Education: http://highereducationband.com/

Amongst the Monks: http://www.amongstthemonks.com/

Freelance: https://www.facebook.com/FreelanceBandMD

 

9 Mile Roots – Exclusive Artist Spotlight

9 Mile Roots Montauk Music Suburban Reggae

“On The Floor” Exclusive Premiere on TopShelf Reggae

Download “On The Floor” Exclusively from TopShelf Reggae

9 Mile Roots Montauk Music Suburban Reggae

TopShelf Reggae is offering an exclusive download of 9 Mile Roots’ new song “On The Floor” on their website this week, under their Artist Spotlight series. The feature and download is live at https://topshelfreggae.com/news/artist-spotlight-9-mile-roots. “On The Floor” is the band’s first single from their forthcoming album, which will be titled ReEvolve, and is set for a release later this year.

Clearly not from the islands, 9 Mile Roots are not trying to act like they are, but reggae and rock is what they feel and what they make, unapologetically bassist/vocalist Josh Behun points out, “We may not be a vision of the typical dreadlocked reggae musician that would first come to mind – but reggae music has never been about what’s on the outside – music comes from the soul – and what drives us keeps us alive.”  And when the suburbanite 8 piece hits the stage, they really turn on–their draw in and around the Delmarva area shows that, which is why they were able to secure a summer residency at the renowned Seacrets Nightclub, a legendary Eastern Shore party spot. In addition, they were recently added to the lineup for Reggae in the Park, on August 29, where they will join the likes of Damian and Stephen Marley for Philly’s biggest annual reggae festival.

9 Mile Roots consists of members Jay Randell (lead vocals/trumpet), Dave Muse (drums), Josh Behun (bass), Matt Huss (guitar, vocals), Ryan McDonough (guitar), Matt Foote (baritone sax), Casey Masters (trumpet), and Gabe Andino (tenor sax/vocals), 9 Mile Roots bring an intense and rich sound to their live performances, which seethe with an ample of amount of rock energy while keeping the reggae-tinged groove consistent throughout their favorite songs like the upbeat and uptempo “Kabuki” and the crunchy and funky “Simplify”.

9 Mile Roots Suburban Reggae Montauk Music
"9 Mile Roots is a strong collaboration of musicians pulling from very diverse backgrounds - With so many different influences crushing together with the common goal to produce lively upbeat music, our sound is best described as - rock reggae vibes with hard rock riffs, hip-hop flow, smooth brass licks and rock-steady hooks... Suburban Roots Reggae."

 Links

Website http://www.9mileroots.com/home

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/9mileroots

Twitter https://twitter.com/9MileRoots

SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/9-mile-roots

 >> For interview and media requests please contact:

Andrew McClatchy-Montauk Music: 484.326.4516 | andrew@montaukmusic.com<<

Kalen & The Sky Thieves Release New LP, ‘Bluebird’ – Stream the Album Now

On Tuesday Kalen & The Sky Thieves (http://www.kalenmusic.com/) released their new album, Bluebird. I’ve listened to it several times through prior to the release up to today, and I urge you to go and listen to it from start to finish, and find yourself on a moody rock journey that will make you a better person. Kalen Lister’s voice alone makes it an amazing album, but the song composition, musicianship and production quality put this album in another echelon right away. Plus, it will make you want to get up and dance right from first listen, if you’re not one of those self-conscious types, ya dig?

The best part is that two weeks ago, I had no idea about Kalen & The Sky Thieves. One of the things that I love about my job as a music publicist is finding myself at cool events due to dumb luck, which in this instance was an invitation from a fellow panelist at a local university career seminar. Elisa, the general manager of RAW Baltimore suggested that I come see what their bi-monthly showcase events were all about.

In short, it’s artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians… If you’re a creative sort, you’ve got a place at a RAW Showcase. With no idea of what to expect, I sat down in the music room, where Kalen & The Sky Thieves were about to come on stage. They cooly came on and broke right into a bright and savory song, though I can’t fein to remember their setlist, just hearing them for the first time that very evening. At some point in their second song I started to feel like I was sitting through a nearly private performance for a band that was about to break out in a big way–the kind of thing that doesn’t happen too often.

Their set consisted of a collection of songs that established something rare these days: a true rock sound. After happily taking in their entire set, I felt that there was something about them, the “it”, or “the oooh” as one friend of mine likes to say. After meeting each member after the show, that feeling was reinforced by how sincere they were, and their excitement level after playing a relatively quick set that certainly blew a few more minds that just my own.

Enough, go drench yourself in some rock bliss and listen to their new LP Bluebird. And catch them on tour if can; I’ll be doing just that the next time they’re in my neck of the woods, which I hope is sooner than later. Once you’ve fallen in love, you can get the album from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bluebird/id919695837

Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kalenandtheskythieves